How Do You Stabilize a Neighborhood After a Recession? Cleveland Fed Discussed That Today

I wrote about Vickie Harris and her one woman initiative to revitalize her street. It involved taking a vacant lot and making it work for the neighborhood.  The Cleveland Federal Reserve Bank has a really great on line presence, just FYI. Today’s article shows why. We have had 10 years to recover from the recession and all the foreclosures (due to predatory lending and otherwise) that made housing sale prices fall and destabilize neighborhoods. Because vacant houses, especially in multiples on some streets, are about more than just sale prices. Fewer people to support local businesses and service industries, homes used by squatters for criminal activity, etc. No one likes it when it happens in their neighborhood and the discussion becomes: do we tear these homes down and repurpose the land or do we rehab them? Many neighborhoods have found rehabbing costs exceed the sale prices. Not optimal for private purchase or non profit redevelopment efforts. But this is not universal. In most neighborhoods, there are streets (after ten long years!) that are seeing stabilization. Home prices rising being an important indicator. In those areas or on those specific streets, rehabbing makes sense.

Below is a chart from a really good explanation of pros and cons to demolition vs rehabbing a vacant home. It was published by The Cleveland Federal Reserve today. (Chart is from their page)

Read the entire Blight Elimination article here.

What people in the neighborhoods, in city planning, in real estate etc worry about is demolition being so wide spread that it begins to change the make up of the neighborhood. I’ve lived in various states and believe me, the Cleveland area is very fortunate to have such a diverse, architecturally rich old housing stock. In some cities it’s hard to find homes built before 1970! The existing neighborhood and her people, you know, the ones who live and work there already, are why the Hardest Hit Fund (HHF) was established in 2010 to set aside Federal monies to help keep neighborhoods stable.  I lean on the side of caution; on the side of every year having land banks and local governments WITH community input look at their strategies and see if an adjustment is needed.

Read the article and let me know what you think.